The issue features neither Batman nor the Outsiders

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A strange thing happens when a single character dips his finger into multiple titles.  Take Batman, for example.  He appears, or appeared if you want to be more specific, in Batman, Detective Comics, JLA, Batman and the Outsiders, Batgirl, Nightwing, Robin, Trinity, Final Crisis, Superman/Batman, and various other appearances and guest spots in the rest of the DC universe.  When some brainiac decides it would be a great idea to kill Batman (figuratively or literally, we don’t know yet) it causes nothing but problems in the rest of the titles.  Batman and the Outsiders is a perfectly example of one story screwing another.

outsiders13cover.jpgWe won’t find out the fate of Batman until the next issue of Batman, hitting stands this week, but for Batman and the Outsiders, the aftermath of Batman’s absence is already being felt as the pieces are being picked up.  If there’s one thing DC seems to have trouble with these last two years it’s getting their stories lined up, with everyone on the same page, and issues and titles being released in a particular order.  I can understand if Grant Morrison wants to keep everything secret until he figures out how he wants to end his magnum opus, but that’s a George Lucas mentality, and we’ve all seen how that worked (or didn’t) with his secrecy surrounding the prequel flicks.

Unfortunately, I can’t fault Frank Tieri for the failings in this issue.  It’s obvious he’s trying to tell a solid story, but without the crucial questions answered; namely “what happened to Batman”, all he can do is throw together a loose collection of scenes that carries the reader over for another month or two before everything solidifies as all the writers around the DCU are given their new marching orders on story line direction.

To make things even more confusing, this past week also saw the release of the fifth issue of the Batgirl mini-series, which not only features Batman, but also takes place before RIP.

With the breakup of the Outsiders in the previous issue, Batgirl is trying to find a way to keep peace in Gotham.  From confronting an out of control Man-Bat in Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge, to approaching Vigilante after his on-panel, shot to the mouth, brains exploding out the back attack on Johnny Stitches’ goons, to wanting to talk to Spoiler, Batgirl is looking for help.  Matthew and I have been having many discussions lately as to the content of comics marketed toward an all-age audience, and I think the full on brains exploding moment is really shocking and violent, and probably should have earned this title a mature sticker on the cover.  I find it ironic that on the page previous Fernando Dagnino drew a woman and child in Johnny Stitches’ Pow! Club, and to protect the child, the woman is covering the boy’s eyes.  Ah metatextual irony.

When the subtitle says “Featuring Batgirl”, I would expect her to play a more active role in the issue, but instead we find her at the very end of the issue, sitting in a destroyed batcave, going over a potential list of new Outsiders who won’t replace Batman completely, but instead signify a specific aspect of the Dark Knight.  On that short list of potential new Outsiders?  Spoiler, Mia Dearden (Speedy), Huntress, The Question, Catwoman, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Robin, The Riddler, Batwoman, Man-Bat, Barbara Gordon, Wildcat, Vigilante, Jason Todd, Jason Bard, and someone else that is hidden from view – could be Deadshot, could be a Skrull.

Alfred appears on the scene and while he congratulates Cassandra on her selection, he does point out that Nightwing is not on the list.  If continuity does matter, we know Alfred is not dead following RIP, and considering Nightwing shows up on the last panel (not in a Batman outfit) it places the story firmly in the Battle for the Cowl realm.  Considering the bad blood between Nightwing and Batgirl, there’s going to be a whole lot of fisticuffs come next issue.

I’m not thrilled with the direction the series is taking, especially since it features neither Batman nor the Outsiders as they were originally created by Nightwing (double burn there Richard).  Depending on how things shake out, and to keep readers from poking their eyes out with a sharp stick, we better be seeing a title change in the very near future.  Batgirl and the Outsiders?  Bats of Prey?  Justice League Lite?  Until then, I’m giving Batgirl and the Long List of Potential Partners Batman and the Outsiders #13 2 out of 5 Stars.

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47/47

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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5 Comments

  1. November 24, 2008 at 11:30 pm — Reply

    Why do people have a hard time understanding that this takes place during R.I.P, not after! Your whole review is invalid since you are basing it on the idea that this takes place during Battle For the Cowl. This takes place during R.I.P while Batman is running around Gotham crazed in the Zur-En-Arr costume, therefore missing. I think that has been very clear in all of the R.I.P tie-ins yet people continue to not understand that.

  2. November 24, 2008 at 11:42 pm — Reply

    Why do people have a hard time understanding that this takes place during R.I.P, not after! Your whole review is invalid since you are basing it on the idea that this takes place during Battle For the Cowl. This takes place during R.I.P while Batman is running around Gotham crazed in the Zur-En-Arr costume, therefore missing. I think that has been very clear in all of the R.I.P tie-ins yet people continue to not understand that.

    And how do we know this from the issue, exactly? I don’t find anything that clearly delineates the information that you’re castigating Stephen for…

  3. Brother129
    November 25, 2008 at 10:52 am — Reply

    Let’s bring back the 80s…if only to relive the days when comic book stories featured asteriks that referred you to handy captions to tell when the heck a story was supposed to be happened. Between editorial mishandling, writer ego, and the lateness of books, I’m convinced Marvel and DC with their current EICs will never be able to figure this out.

    Of course all of this distracts from the enjoyability of the read. In order to read this, I had to suspend my knowledge of R.I.P and just pretend this was a what if story featuring what Batgirl would do if Batman was killed or went MIA. When I did that, I found myself really enjoying this issue. The art was decent too.

  4. November 25, 2008 at 11:14 am — Reply

    I think that, since Morrison has already given the continuity of the entire DC Universe the big ‘F— you!’, you shouldn’t expect any of the titles that anything that he’s doing effects to make any sense linearly within the rest of the DCU either.

    So, with that in mind, I’m going to consider this to be a tale happening right before Identity Crisis. The next arc will be a story retconned into the Silver Age version of the Brave and Bold (featuring the Creeper!). And, the arc after that will be post-In Blackest Night.

    If those placements don’t work for you, feel free to make up your own. They’ll make as much sense as anything else going on in any Bat-related title right now.

  5. November 25, 2008 at 11:35 am — Reply

    Brother: You are on the same wavelength as I when reading the issue. I would have mentioned including the Editor’s Notes, but I’ve been harping on that for a while now, so left it out. And I agree with Jacin and Brother that if you suspend belief on when this issue takes place, then it is a pretty good issue. Still, that RIP banner slapped on the cover brings us back down to reality… which is…that things are messed up timeline wise. Maybe we need a Booster Gold issue to fix all the mistakes.

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